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Platform on Research and Innovation policies and systems

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Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research

Stiftelsen för strategisk forskning |

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Shortname
 
SSF
Head Office
 
Stockholm, Box 70483, SE 107 26 Stockholm, Sweden
Offices/Branches
 
SSF has only one office.
International Representation
 
No
Mission
 

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research has as its main purpose to support research within medicine, engineering and science. The foundation supports development of strong research environments that are of the highest international class with importance for future progress of Swedish competitiveness. The Foundation bases its judgements on one or more of the following considerations:

  • The power of internationally high-class research settings to create new knowledge and hence to attract unique competence and international investment into the country 
  • People with graduate education who through their broadened and enhanced research training are attractive for employment primarily in industry and public administration but also at universities and university colleges
  • Research with results that may form the basis for the development of existing enterprises or the founding of new ones
  • Improved quality of life through new employment opportunities, better working conditions, better health and an improved environment
  • Research that acts as a focus for international cooperation, through which knowledge of interest to Swedish industry and society can be gathered
Status
 
Other public
Activities
 
Research funder
Main activity
 

The judicial status of the foundation implies that the foundation shall be managed according to the foundations statutes, out of control of political power decisions. The Foundation's statutes lay down that it is to promote the development of viable research settings of international class and of significance for Sweden's future competitiveness. By strategic research it is meant research that is considered to be of future advantage to Sweden. Promotion of development of Swedish research is foremost done by funding research programmes and research projects.

Research funder
 
The Foundation employs many different forms of support. Three forms of grant dominate - grants to strategic research centres, framework grants and grants to outstanding individual researchers.
Other
 
The Foundation has no official advisory function but one of the foundations main goals is to actively carry out information that, 1) contributes to a dialogue regarding research and the research importance between different sectors - particularly academia and industry, 2) is aimed towards decision makers, stakeholders and research that are of importance for the progress of society in general and Sweden´s ability to compete in particular. This is done through media, internet and through the funded researchers who are required to set aside time and resources to inform decision makers, industry, students and society.
Background
 

SSF was founded by the conservative/liberal government in 1994. The funding capital of EUR0.61b (SEK6b) was taken from the former so-called wage-earner funds that was founded by the social democratic government in 1984. The capital from the wage-earner funds was decided to be used, among other things, for knowledge development, efforts on the environmental area and for supporting entrepreneurship. The purpose of SSF is to support research in natural science, engineering and medicine that will strengthen Sweden's competitiveness.

As a result of active capital management and the positive past performance of the stock market, the capital has grown and amounted to just over EUR1b (SEK10b) at the start of 2008, despite the fact that about EUR0.8b (SEK8b) had been disbursed up to then. As from 2006, the budget for new commitments is EUR51m (SEK500m) per year.

Main Structure
 

The Foundation is headed by an Executive Director reporting directly to the Governing Board. The executive director is supported by a secretariat of 16 persons and a drafting organisation that can call upon a large number of Swedish and foreign researchers and representatives of industry and the community. The Foundation has created an advisory group - the Collegium - of experts who cooperate in and advise on planning and follow-up of its activities and in connection with the drafting of grant announcements. Appointed by the Governing Board, the advisory group represents a pool of about 50 qualified researchers and others in charge of research from universities, industry and the community. In their personal capacity, members of the Collegium are invited to work in various drafting groups appointed by the Foundation. The members are also invited to an annual meeting at which the Foundation reports on current work and raises important future and planning issues for discussion. 

Component Organisations (if any)
 

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research is the former owner of Interactive Institute

The foundation is still one of the founders of the Institute. 

Parent Organisation (if any)
 

The Foundation for Strategic Research was established through a decision in the Swedish parliament 1994. As a foundation the organisation is independent and is managed by the foundation board.

Characteristics of Operation
 

Members of the Governing Board are appointed for a limited time by the Swedish government. Meetings are held on decision form the chairperson or when at least three members of the board call on meeting. The Governing Board decides to grant allocations through calls for proposals, with a competitive application procedure within specified but broadly-based areas.

See also under the headline Funding impact assessment processes.

 

Year
 
2011
Number of Employees
 
16
Administrative staff
 
7
Research staff
 
9
Research policy priorities
 

The aim of the Foundation for Strategic Research is to support research that is of international class and of significance for Sweden's future competitiveness. Supported areas of research are medicine, engineering and natural science.

Main Policy Priorities
1.2.1 Strategic Research policies (long-term research agendas)
Other Policy Priorities
1.1.1 Strategy policy documents (official documents, policy consultation papers, green or whith papers, Operational Programmes of Structural Funds)
1.1.3 Policy Advisory services (technology foresight, scoreboard type activities, cluster mapping, sectoral studies of innovation)
2.1.1 Policy measures concering excellence, relevance and management of research in Universities
Sectoral priorities
 

Natural science, engineering and medicine.

Financing priorities
 
Grants
Development of Priorities
 

According to a government decision from 1994 that stated the objectives of the foundation, the foundation shall fund research within natural science, energineering and medicine. This decision was made after consultation with several of the Swedish research councils. The reform of the post graduate programmes was one of the central issues that was brought up in the discussions. Concerning scientific questions, the government decision also stated that the foundation shall support basic research, applied research and everything in between these two types of research in the fields of natural science, engineering and medicine. The foundation's priorities have been divided into the following areas:   

  • Information Technology and Applied Mathematics
  • Biotechnology and other life science related technology
  • Life Science
  • Material Sciences and Technology
  • Electronics and photonics
  • Production and Process Technology
Evolution of Priorities
 

%3Cp%3EThe%20decisions%20that%20are%20made%20by%20the%20board%20are%20affected%20by%20strategic%20considerations%20within%20the%20advisory%20group.%20Funding%20structures%20as%20post%20graduate%20programme%20and%20grants%20to%20network%20programmes%20were%20two%20of%20the%20main%20priorities%20during%20the%26nbsp%3Binitial%20phase.%26nbsp%3BDuring%20recent%20years%20the%20efforts%20have%20been%20concentrated%20at%20larger%26nbsp%3Bprojects%20when%20the%20foundation%20granted%20%26euro%3B91m%20(SEK842m)%20divided%20on%2017%20research%20centres%20between%202006-2012.%20The%20foundation%20is%20still%20funding%20individual%20researchers%20through%20the%20two%26nbsp%3Bprogrammes%2C%20INGVAR%20and%20SIG.%3C%2Fp%3E%0A%3Cp%3EThe%20foundation's%20priorities%20have%20also%20been%20affected%20by%20outside%20circumstances%20as%20well.%20The%20Microelectronic%2C%20Material%20sciences%20and%20Technology%20were%20fields%20that%20were%20funded%20in%20collaboration%20with%20the%20Swedish%20Agency%20for%20Economic%20and%20Regional%20Growth%20(NUTEK)%26nbsp%3Band%20the%20Swedish%20Research%20Council.%20When%20these%20two%20actors'%20funding%20strategies%20were%20changed%26nbsp%3Bthe%20Foundation%20for%20Strategic%20Research%20replaced%20the%20lost%20funding%20shares.%20These%20kinds%20of%20outside%20influence%20are%20more%20of%20an%20indirect%20influence%20since%20the%20foundation%20is%20formally%20out%20of%20control%20of%20political%20power%20decisions.%20%26nbsp%3B%3C%2Fp%3E

Targets
 
Universities
Not for profit
Last available data
 
2010
Total annual budget in Euro
 
60,000,000
Total annual budget in national currency
 
550,000,000
Currency transformation method
 
1 EUR = 9.1 SEK
Detailed annual budget
 
Biotechnology and other life science related technology EUR4.7m(SEK43m), Electronics and photonics EUR7.8m (SEK72m), Information Technology and Applied Mathematics EUR10.9m (SEK100m), Life sciences EUR18.2m (SEK167m), Material Sciences and Technology EUR10m (SEK93m), Production and Process Technology EUR7.7m (SEK71m).
Budget Trends
 

Stable, with adjustments depending of the projects/programmes that receive funds.

In the long run the Foundation for Strategic Research has permission to use up the capital. After more than ten years of activity the original capital of EUR0.6b (SEK6b) had grown to EUR0.9b (SEK8.9b) in January 2005, due to investments in the stock markets. Up and until 2005 the foundation had used SEK6.3b of its capital. The Governing Board decided in spring 2002 on a planning disposition that involves reducing the annual expenditure frame from 2003. This decision means that the capital will probably be used up in the long run, but at a slower rate than with the previous higher budget frame. In 2003 the budget was EUR81.4m (SEK798m), 2005 it was EUR66m (SEK647m), 2006 it was EUR67m (SEK659m), 2007 EUR51.5m (SEK505m), 2008 EUR51.4m (SEK504m) and in 2010 EUR60m (SEK550m).

 

Source of funds
 

The capital derives from the Swedish wage earner funds. The capital is managed by the foundation’s capital manger that is responsible to the foundation’s board.

Expenditure/Destination of funds
 

Seven different types of funding programmes have been used by SSF:

  • Strategic research centres, which are focused on building up a research environment of highest scientific class.
  • Network programmes, which are characterised as research collaborations between universities and other institutions.
  • Post graduate programmes, which are of central importance according to the foundation. These programmes are aimed at collaboration between academia and industry.
  • Framework grants, smaller grants to accomplish new orientation in areas that are considred to be strategically important.
  • Senior research support (SIG), this type of fund is aimed at successful senior researchers that are willing to change their research focus and accept new challenges.  
  • Future research leader (INGVAR), a programme which is intended to support young promising researchers with leadership potential.
  • Strategic grants to individual universities and university colleges, which has as its purpose to support reconstructing of the funded institution.

In the future the strategic research centres will be the dominating fund structure at the expense of the research programme structure that will be terminated. The individual funding programmes SIG and INGVAR will remain.   
 

Funding cycles
 

The foundation does not receive any funds from government; its funding comes from the foundation's own capital. The project funding is often restricted to five or in special cases six years. Framework funding often runs over a period of three years. Payments are made through requisition procedures and are mostly yearly. One criterion for larger projects is that they have to establish a website before receiving their first payout. Payments to smaller projects, like conferences, are done once. Announcements of funding programmes vary but support to individual researchers in the INGVAR programme is open for application every second year. Larger funding programmes do not have certain announcement cycles because of the fact that these kind of programmes are result of special initiatives.

Allocation of funds
 

According to the foundation review of applications and evaluation of completed research and graduate studies are central functions for guaranteeing scientific quality as well as strategic relevance of the work. For these functions, internationally leading scientific and industrial expertise is employed. The purpose is to produce high-quality material on which decisions can be based and which generate confidence both in the research community and among the general public. The Foundation judges the applications on the basis of one or more of the following considerations:

  • The power of internationally high-class research settings to create new knowledge and hence to attract unique competence and international investment into the country
  • People with graduate education who through their broadened and enhanced research training are attractive for employment primarily in industry and public administration but also at universities and university colleges
  • Research with results that may form the basis for the development of existing enterprises or the founding of new ones
  • Improved quality of life through new employment opportunities, better working conditions, better health and an improved environment
  • Research that acts as a focus for international cooperation, through which knowledge of interest to Swedish industry and society can be gathered.
Funding impact assessment processes
 

The Governing Board decides to grant allocations through calls for proposals, with a competitive application procedure within specified but broadly-based areas. The Foundation welcomes outline ideas from elsewhere, but does not decide upon non-solicited proposals.

In its announcement, the Foundation outlines the process of reviewing applications. In many cases, a two-step process is used, in which brief applications are assessed and then a fairly small number of applicants are invited to submit more detailed applications. The quality and relevance of the work done are evaluated and experience is recorded.

The foundation has done several evaluations in recent years: among others a mid-term evaluation of the programme Biomedical engineering for improved health, a evaluation of nine SSF-financed programmes within the life science field and a comparative evaluation of three programmes in plant biotechnology.

Evaluation and review
 

The government decision that stated the establishment of the foundation also introduced routines for evaluation of the organisation's activity. This has been done at two occasions; 1997 and 2002. These evaluations where conducted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. The evaluation from 2002 can found here:

http://www.kva.se/Documents/Vetenskap_samhallet/Forskningsvillkor/Rapporter/rapport_ssf_2003.pdf

No further evaluations has been carried out.

Website in original language
Website in English
Correspondent name
 
Pauline Mattsson
Document Date
 
26/03/2010

Country Highlights

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Cip logo Cip logo
 

Version: 2.1.0